Budweiser cheers the end of Prohibition, perhaps too mightily.

March 14, 2012

Something rubs me the wrong way about Budweiser’s lavish “End of Prohibition” commercial, which first ran on the Superbowl. Not the idea, which I like. But the tone. Beer did not save America from sadness. It’s a libation. Not a cure.

The idea is based on a true story, which the commercial tells us via title card. I believe it’s the bit where the iconic Budweiser Cleisdales deliver a shit-ton of beer to a just re-opened bar. Cool. Like I said, a good idea.

Where the commercial goes awry (in my opinion) is in tone and manner. Its swaggering demeanor comes off as hokey and forced, further dramatized by a blatantly heroic musical score. None of this surprises me. The agency and client undoubtedly went for a War Horse look and feel. And why not? Both stories are period pieces. Both stories feature horses.

But the ball, albeit well hit, goes foul of the pole. Consider these images: The dusty can-opener lifted off an unused bar. The guy in mid-shave forgetting to towel off. A newsboy rushing through the street shouting at the top of his lungs: “It’s over! It’s over!” Chill out Phidippides.

Even the super rankles: “Prohibition denied Americans BUDWEISER for 13 years.” The biggest word in the sentence is the client’s name. Hmmm. The other nouns seem like they should be more important. And couldn’t AB get off their high horse and state the fact that it was alcohol prohibited to Americans, not just Budweiser?

Beer is good. And this is a good story. But this commercial is a might drunk on its own hubris.

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